This blog is a personal take on Listowel, Co. Kerry. I am writing for anyone anywhere with a Listowel connection but especially for sons and daughters of Listowel who find themselves far from home. Contact me at listowelconnection@gmail.com

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Morning Walk in Writers’ Week 2018, Craftshop na Méar and Listowel Visual Arts Week 2018

Feeding Time photo by Graham Davies

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My Walking Tour of the Square during Writers’ Week 2018



Ger Holland’s photo tells its own tale. I was totally overwhelmed by the number of people who turned up at 9.30 a.m. on Saturday June 2 2018 to take the walking tour of Listowel Town Square with me.


At the door of The Listowel Arms I met Dave O’Sullivan, Paddy McElligott, Cliona McKenna and Mary Fagan, four of my able assistants.

 Mary was getting into character as Mena in Sive as she met Thomasheen  Seán Rua, the matchmaker, played by David O’Sullivan.

“Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match, find me a find, catch me a catch….”

Local historians, Michael Moore, Liam Grimes and Vincent Carmody were taking the tour.

Clíona’s parents in law, Mary and Tony McKenna, great supporters of Writers’ Week, were looking forward to a leisurely walk in the early morning sunshine and to maybe learning a thing or two about Listowel and Listowel people.

Musician and singer, Mary Moylan and Mike Moriarty, singer and historian, two more of my able assistants, were ready for the off.

I mounted the podium, aka the Tidy Town’s seat, and the tour began.

Paddy and Mike Lynch did a great job on Goodbye to the White Horse Inn.


On the steps of Listowel Castle we had history, songs and drama.

At Gurtenard House we had more history, more songs, an anecdote or three. Eamon ÓMurchu was hastily press ganged into being an able assistant but acquitted himself like the trouper he is.

We stopped at the beautifully restored Butler Centre, where Antoinette Butler told us what happens nowadays in this historic edifice.

We finished up our walk on another stage in the Town Square where we all sang a few verses of Lovely Listowel by Bryan MacMahon.

The morning walk was a great success, thanks to all the hard work put in by everyone involved.

Most of these photos were taken by able assistants, Tony McKenna, Breda Ferris and  Elizabeth Brosnan.

Follow the link below for some of the highlights of the walk recorded by Charlie Nolan;

Saturday Morning Walk 2018

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O’Connor’s Pharmacy with weighing Scales



Photo: John Hannon

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My Time in 53 Church Street Remembered



As 53 Church St. prepares to reopen as a barbers’ I’m looking back at the early days of Craftshop na Méar.



Namir Karim opens the door to Craftshop na Méar

Namir gets a weaving lesson

Some of the early crafters

Crafters with the late Dan Green who was

 a great supporter of the shop in its early days. At the far right in the picture is Miriam Kiely who knew 53 Church Street as her family home.

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First Ever Listowel Visual Arts Week


It’s Visual Arts Week and the shopkeepers of Listowel are getting behind Olive Stack in her new venture.

Then in the Square, local artist, Jim Dunn is showing us how. He is crafting a beautiful celtic style mural before our very eyes. He worked on it for hours and hours today and he’ll be back tomorrow.

He has to work through all the distractions, people chatting to him, photographing him and having a go at helping him.

Will you look at the state of his hands? And let me tell you he is an exceptionally neat worker.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade 2018, 1984 All Stars and Holy Week in St. John’s Ballybunion

Listowel Castle in Spring Sunshine



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St. Patrick’s Day in Listowel 2018



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Listowel All Stares


Way back in 1984 Listowel Badminton Club organised an all star awards evening for the sports clubs of the town. Here are some of the newspaper cuttings Dave O’Sullivan found when I asked him to see if the papers had anything about this event.

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Holy Week



Today is Good Friday, the day on which we, Catholics commemorate the crucifixion of Christ.

This week I visited Ballybunion’s beautiful church with my young visitors and I was surprised to see that the old custom of draping the statues in purple is still observed in this magnificent church.

I couldn’t remember why the statues were draped so I made enquiries and it is so that all the focus is on the passion as depicted in the Stations of the Cross.

Ballybunion’s St. John’s is an artistic triumph. It’s architecture, its mosaic tilework and its stained glass and statues rival any that you will see in the finest churches in the land.

In Easter 2018 I saw a installation depicting the scene at Calvary on the first Good Friday.

At points around the church aisles are various gorgeous artworks on the Calvary theme.

Nighttime in Listowel December 2017

Listowel Castle at night

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The very last of the exhibitors at the BOI Enterprise Town event

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December 2017 Nightime in Listowel

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Christmas in the 1920s by Eamon Kelly     Concluded


…..The hearth was the
friendliest place in the house. The place to talk, to sing and to listen to a
good story, to hear the conversation of the grown-ups and to let on not to hear
little bits of gossip or some scandal our elders seemed to take an unlaughing
pleasure in. The hearth was the place where the mother read out the American
letters from Aunt Margaret, Aunt Mary and our Aunty Bridgie, and counted out
the dollars they, and Aunt Liz, had sent us. We would all repeat the American
address where our aunts lived to see who’d remember it best. It was Ditmar’s
Boulevard, Astoria, Queens, Long Island, New York. The hearth was the place
where we knelt before the supper on Christmas Eve for The Rosary with the
trimmings we thought would never end.

When it was time
for us all small lads to go to bed we’d hang up our stockings along the mantle
shelf and on the crane to make sure Daidí na Nollag wouldn’t forget us. Even if
was only a new penny it would be welcome. A penny was a great treat in those
days when you would get five bulls eyes for a half penny and two peggy’s legs
for a full penny. In the end we would have to be hunted to bed we would be so
lazy leaving the warm hearth. But the promise of driving in the pony and trap
through the dark to early mass in the morning would finally shift us, but we
weren’t gone yet. We’d all have to stand at the front door to admire the
bunches of lights in the houses down along the valley and up the rising ground
to Rossacrew, all the little lights winking and blinking through the dark
until, as the man said, the earth below looked like a reflection of the starry
Heaven above.

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The Listowel Arms is looking very festive




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The Catechism



Boy did people remember this! I think the following email sums up most of the feedback I got .

Hi, Mary, The Catechism had ‘all the answers’ – and was all black-and-white! No grey areas! O tempora O mores!

In my young days – 50s and 60s – religion was terrorised into us- often accompanied by a bit of pummelling, just to concentrate the mind!

Even to this day, churches can  inspire an atavistic dread of hell-fire and damnation. We must only trust that there is something better in store for us. We shall see…

The most-remembered thing about the Catechism for me is the phrase concocted from reversing its  letters: Master Sits In His Chair Each Time At Catechism. (Except when he rises to cuff home the message of love and forgiveness!).

Robert O’Shea’s New York, Listowel Castle Visit and Kissane Photo Exhibition

Visitors in Listowel Town Square in Summer 2017




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At Listowel Castle with my granddaughters


If you have children to entertain, a tour of the castle is the ideal way to pass away an afternoon. The tour is free. The tour guides are excellent. This lovely lady gave us the ladybird version of the tour and patiently answered all the little ones’ questions.

One of the benefits of the tour is the the great vantage point for overlooking the town.  From the castle steps and from the windows you can see over the countryside, the river Feale and the town Square.  You’d never know who you’d see.

Another benefit is that you get to meet some lovely fellow tourists.

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More of Robert O’Shea’s Photos


Robert O’Shea, formerly of Charles Street and now of New York sent us these. The first ones were taken on the roof of the building where Robert works and the others are of The Edgar Allan Poe Cottage.

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The Kissanes are gathering

Eily Walshe is an avid family historian. Following on from her comprehensive history of her own Kissane line in photos and story, she has now traced her cousins’ Kissane line and she has put together a book and a comprehensive photo gallery and timeline.

All of this will be revealed this  evening in St. John’s

This is what Eily says :

An August Treat at St. John’s Theatre!

All photos are in black and white and mostly pre 1960. Some have been taken before 1900 and are of normal family events and celebrations. They say “a picture tells a thousand words”!! Well we have 92 pictures in total on view from 11th August for a full three weeks!


Listowel Castle, Aoife Hannon, Milliner, a poem for the late Mary Keane and a Broadway star with a Listowel Connection

At Listowel Castle, May 2016

Bryan MacMahon statue in the castle grounds.

The Master with his beloved Square in the background. Bryan MacMahon walked around this square practically every night that he spent in town.

Listowel Castle

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Flowers at The Kingdom County fair 2016




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Aoife Hannon Hats and Headpieces on Display in Main Street

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Second Anniversary for Mary

The late John McCarthy, poet and mad pride activist wrote this poem for Mary Keane as she approached the second anniversary of John B.’s death.

She was always

backstage, producing

keeping it all together,

pub, finances, royalties.

enquiring when writing

their final draft as to

who would exit first?

She replied laughingly,”Sure

that was always my part, all

he did was sit in

the night and write.

They were a perfect

pair, a buttress foreach other.

The gentle character

lines of her face spoke

volumes, of how she had

survived the pregnant pauses,

the standing ovations of

what had gone before

handled the  traumas and

joys from behind the scenes

while he had taken

the bows at the curtains of

life but still when asked

“How are things?” she replied wistfully,

“Aragh, I’m fine, but I’d be better

if John was here.”

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Ballerina with a Listowel Connection

Hennessy Sheehan is the daughter of Broadway singer/actor Ciarán Sheehan whose ancestors hail from Upper William Street Listowel. Hennessy is now blossoming into a star in her own right.

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